Three Things I Can't Bring Myself To Read (or Write)
1. Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. I just look at the little girl's sad face on the cover and feel all overcome with anger and frustration at the injustice and cruelty in some people's lives. I choke up just thinking about this book. I haven't read a word of it. It could be shit for all I know, but it's sitting there, waiting for the day when I have the courage to take that journey. If the cover has that strong an impression on me, how can I get through the book?
2: Anything new by Minette Walters. I do love a good crime procedural - not that Minette gets bogged down in the forensic details, as her stories are far richer in human, "novelistic", "psychological" attributes. It's just that the superbly orchestrated emotional roller-coaster I went through while reading The Shape of Snakes was just too much. I didn't pick the ending and it really hit me hard - shit man, I'm tough enough to admit it made me cry as well. Another big choke in the throat. (Big softie, E@L!)
Plot-wise, it turns out to be quite simple after all - hope I don't give too much away if I compare to Agatha Christie's Murder on The Orient Express, which I am sure has been done by far more astute reviewers than I - but the facades of the lives of the people in this nice/nasty neighbourhood are analyzed and seen through with more precision than you'd really feel comfortable accepting for your own life... Know what I mean? Sure, I was manipulated into my emotional response - Walters is an absolute master - but it was so brilliantly done and it hit with such force that I don't think I could stand the pleasure again.
3. There's just one blogger I don't read because she writes too well. If I had to compete with Helen for extracting humour and moral purpose and reasons to get out of bed in the morning (other than pay-day or golf) from the thousand natural shocks that life delivers every day... Well, I know that we are not competing (though I feel that we are, at the same time), but I felt she was just so much better than anyone else out there, funny and compassionate(ish) and silly and angry and wise all at the same time... It's depressing that she isn't churning out great novels.
Someone that talented shouldn't just be writing a fucking blog, they should just be fucking writing.
At least I know she *used* to write great stuff - she may be churning out absolute XiaXue-like drivel by now for all I could tell you, but I doubt it. I haven't been game to bring myself to even open her page for nearly a YEAR, though it is on my blogroll for you to surf off and enjoy. Shall I compare ME to a summer's day? If this lady can't write a novel, what hope have I?
And here I am struggling to write an even vaguely amusing anecdote here and there with one or two smiles delivered every month or so, while continuing to nurse these vain aspirations of being capable of writing a good old traditional experimental murder-mystery change-your-life-forever picaresque bildungsroman answer-the-big questions (or at least ask them again in a unique way) touch-your-heart barrel-of-laughs type novel myself.
Because how the fuck would I know how to write a great novel? And unlike MercerMachine, I would only be prepared do if it could be a GREAT novel... that's how fucking conceited I really am. But hey, I've got to know myself pretty well by this age, and know how easy it is for me to be distracted. If I wanted to write a novel, I'd have to give up work, give up blogging, give up porn... NOT sit on the beach in Phuket like I'm going to be doing over New Years...
I might as well say that I'm going to paint a great painting, go out and stretch some canvas and cover it with colored oils for the first time in my life and expect to be hailed as the new Rembrandt.
Or write a fucking symphony and first time be Beethoven.
Or fill in a Singapore Foreign Domestic Workers Application form correctly first-up.
You know, the impossible stuff! Read and Write.
OTHER MONKEYS SAID
Helen is still wonderful, makes me laugh and cry on a regular basis. If you're going to read anything of hers this month then the stories of Christmas Past, Present and Future should be it. But then again there are still 11 days left of December, who knows what she might share with us!
I read Falling Leaves sometime in 2001 during a six month mania of reading all things asian (we were living in Singapore at the time). It had a different cover then, not like the one pictured. It was a moving book and well worth the read. I do recommend reading it but make sure you have a box of tissues close by. Even my own experiences in foster care during the late 60's and early 70's paled in comparison to her story.
I think you've just prompted me to get off my ass and try to write something.
I'm insecure. And lazy. They're both serious afflictions.
Yeah, lift your game, Helen!